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A Secure Approach to American Energy

Jonathan Powers highlights the Administration's latest steps to bolster energy security for America’s warfighters.

When I served as an Army officer in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003, it became a ritual that our soldiers would reposition fuel trucks on our compound just as the sun went down. Soon after moving these trucks, insurgent mortar fire would target the area where they had previously been sitting. These were the moments when my soldiers and I began to realize the importance of energy to our warfighters on the battlefield. The issue also surfaced as the roads in Baghdad became more dangerous during our 15 month deployment, but we still needed to send daily logistical convoys into those streets to go pick up the new fuel supply. 

Over the last 10 years of war, America's warfighters have gained a better understanding of the significant and inherent connection between energy independence and national security. As a result, the Department of Defense is making great strides in addressing these issues and enhancing our nation's energy security. That is why, as a veteran and in my new role as the Federal Environmental Executive, I am so proud of today's announcements by the Obama Administration, which take steps to bolster energy security for not only our brave men and women fighting on the front lines, but for all Americans.

Today, the Administration announced:

  • The Army will open a new 30,000-square-foot lab in Michigan to develop cutting edge energy technologies for the next generation of combat vehicles. This new lab will support the launch of the Army Green Warrior Convoy, which will test and demonstrate advanced vehicle technology including fuel cells, hybrid systems, battery technologies and alternative fuels. 
  • The Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency will launch a research competition to engage our country's brightest scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in improving the capability of energy storage devices that can be used in the battlefield and for civilian applications. 
  • Building on the commitment President Obama made in his State of the Union Address, the Department of Defense (DOD) will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, with a new goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable energy – including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal – on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025 – enough to power 750,000 homes.  

Since President Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, and is currently at an eight-year high. At the same time, our reliance on foreign oil has decreased, falling to 45 percent in 2011, the lowest level since 1995. This is a trend that's expected to continue thanks in part to the historic fuel economy standards established by President Obama, effectively doubling the efficiency of the cars we drive and saving consumers thousands at the pump. We are also well on track to double renewable energy generation in this country by the end of this year – a bold goal the President laid out in 2008. 

Our troops understand how increasing our energy independence will increase America's national security. With DOD's leadership and the President's unwavering commitment to energy security for America's warfighters, and to a sustained, comprehensive strategy to ensure a secure energy future for all Americans, we will continue to work to make these goals a reality.

Jonathan Powers is the Federal Environmental Executive at the Council on Environmental Quality